Best Find In France? A Bar With The World’s Greatest Wines For Less Than 100 Euros
Eating and drinking well in Burgundy, France isn’t a difficult feat. However, doing so at an affordable price can be tough, especially when all of those premier and grand cru bottles start to add up.
Though wine lovers, fear not. A wallet-friendly safe haven in the heart of commune Meursault now exists for those looking to drink and dine at an unbeatable level of quality.
Wine industry folks around the globe have been buzzing about Le Soufflot since its opening in spring of 2018, though we’re certain the secret won’t stay safe for much longer.
Le Soufflot was founded by chef Jérémy Pezé and Charles Bufferne in April of 2018. The goal was simple: Pezé wanted to create a place with a delicious menu and strong identity, focused around good wine and seasonal ingredients. The kitchen team, Pezé included, is just six.
“No one really worked in big restaurants before, but everyone here has a strong will to work hard and do well,” explains Bufferne, noting that the restaurant normally does 30-40 covers per service (afternoons included).
The team at Le Soufflot makes choosing from the menu simple– as there aren’t many choices to be made. Here, the style is as French as it gets. Le Soufflot proposes a menu déjeuner at 32€, comprising the entrée of the day, a choice of fish or meat, and dessert. The mysterious six-course dinner menu is set at 55€, with the option to add Comté 18 mois at the end for an additional 6€. And that’s it.
“My cuisine changes with each season,” explains Pezé, who is a self-taught chef. “I find new areas of culinary interest, which means that my cooking doesn’t use the same techniques year-round.”
Pezé changes his tasting menu every month; a few examples of his recent creation includes creamed leeks with mustard, salmon with cassava, beets with wild herbs and chive buds, and mackerel with pickled peas drizzled in ginger hollandaise sauce.
Pezé began cooking at 15 years old in the Langres region of France. “After positions at several small restaurants, I accepted a chef role in a brasserie to suffer a little bit more, though this gave me the opportunity to be my own boss at 23 years old,” he says, which caused him to learn the ins-and-outs of running a business much faster.
Pezé met Bufferne in 2015 and the rest was history. Pezé highlights that operating as a team allowed both their profits and individual progression to advance at a much quicker rate than working solo.
The wine list
Although the food is stellar, wine industry folk and local winemakers alike regularly flock to Le Soufflot for long lunches (and even longer dinners), thanks to the restaurant’s Bible-like wine list. The book is noted with Burgundy’s biggest names, as well as references from Italy, Patagonia, Spain, and the United States.
In the realm of French wine, the list is unsurprisingly Burgundy heavy. A section exists for the Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, and Côte Chalonnaise in both white and red, as well as separate Chablis, Irancy, and Yonne sections. (For size reference, there are 145 listings in the Cote de Beaune Blanc section alone.)
From the cream of the crop heavy-hitters to the hidden gems, Le Soufflot houses basically every Burgundian producer you could ever want to drink. And literally, too. The restaurant is a local favorite of world-celebrated vigneron Jean-Marc Roulot. Who knows, you could be dining next to your viticultural royalty during your next weekday lunch.
A rigid Champagne section also occupies the list, which is broken down into ten subsections: Grande and Petite Montagne de Reims, Les Coteaux du Petit Morin, Côte des Blancs, Massif de Saint Thierry, Vallée de la Marne, Coteaux Sud d’Epernay, Côtes d’Epernay, Côte des Bar, and of course, magnums.
When your Burgundy-soaked palate needs a bubbles break, this is undoubtedly the place to be. And world-renowned bottles from the Loire, Jura, and Beaujolais? No worries, they (extensively) have those, too.
However, the most exciting selection of all is the wine list’s single-page of Vins Rares, which are limited to one bottle per wine per table. 2011 Chablis 1er Cru ‘Vaillons’ from Raveneau for just 70€, 2012 Morey-Saint-Denis from Dujac for 65€, and three different 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet cuvées from Jean-Claude Ramonet for just 60€ a pop are a few of the many gems. Though the only thing more jaw-dropping than the offerings themselves is the prices at which they’re sold.
So how exactly do they do it? According to Bufferne, minimal profit margin and extremely high volume.
“We take 25€ profit on bottles up to 90€, 50€ up to 300€, then 100€,” Bufferne explains. “We sell around 1,000-2,000 bottles per month.”
To put this in context, most on-premise accounts in the United States average a 3X mark-up per bottle, regardless of the cost. That means your $15 bottle of wine is going to cost at least $40 – $45 dollars on a restaurant list (in other words, a $30 mark-up on a restaurant’s cheapest offering). The duo could clearly charge an exuberantly higher mark-up on their wines, though in the name of sharing the wealth, they’re willing to take the cut personally.
In just two short years, Le Soufflot has already become an industry staple for wine professionals worldwide. “I don’t remember exactly what I ate there, but the most fun part for me was being able to drink really well for such a great price. The list is full of gems you can actually buy,” says Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson. Burgundy-based Paul Wasserman (of Becky Wasserman Selections) also deems Le Soufflot’s wine list offerings to be vast and extremely fair with regards to price.
Pezé sums up Le Soufflot’s mission best. “We love life, we love food, we love good drinks… it’s the accomplishment of people who get things done. Le Soufflot would be our ideal cantine.”
(Lead image: Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis / Unsplash)
Published 03 March, 2020